chol·​la | \ ˈchȯi-yə How to pronounce cholla (audio) \

Definition of cholla

: any of numerous shrubby opuntias chiefly of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico that have needlelike spines partly enclosed in a papery sheath and cylindrical joints

called also cholla cactus

Illustration of cholla

Illustration of cholla

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A shrubby cactus chiefly of the southwestern United States and Mexico, a cholla has cylindrical joints and needlelike spines partly enclosed in a papery sheath. Chollas vary greatly in size and have small flowers that are sometimes yellow-green and inconspicuous, but usually of more striking colors. One cholla, the desert Christmas cactus, bears bright red fruits through the winter. Living plants serve as food for desert animals. Cholla wood, a hollow cylinder with regularly spaced holes, is used for fuel and decorative novelties. Some cholla fruit is edible.

Examples of cholla in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One side of the trail is framed by a wall of tall cholla, a plant famous for wicked barbed spines like those of a porcupine. Jason H. Harper, Robb Report, 14 Mar. 2021 The selection includes cholla buds, mesquite flour and tepary beans. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 12 Oct. 2020 During one of my earliest Joshua Tree hikes, a spindly segment of pencil cholla pierced through the thick rubber of my boot soles. Shawnté Salabert, Outside Online, 28 Oct. 2019 Massive chain fruit cholla, ocotillo and (of course) saguaros grow profusely on the sunny desert plains. Mare Czinar, azcentral, 15 Jan. 2020 Chollas View is named for the cholla cactus that once covered the landscape. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 June 2019 From alkali flats to scorpions to the cholla cactus that seems to actually leap onto passersby, Nevada is not for the faint of heart. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, 19 Sep. 2018 Made with foraged desert juniper, the magenta flowers of the walking stick cholla cactus, osha root, locally farmed Cascade hops, and white sage, the gin conveys cucumber, dill, and earthy flavors. Sunset, 22 Jan. 2018 The trail is wide and plush with saguaros, cholla, ocotillo, creosote, yucca and granite boulders. Sonja Haller, azcentral, 9 Feb. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cholla.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cholla

1846, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cholla

Mexican Spanish, from Spanish, head

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Cite this Entry

“Cholla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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